Pot Bellied Pigs/Sedating

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Question
I am searching for advice on what could help safely calm / sedate a 5yr old 170lbs. male pot belly that has never gone anywhere before except to get neutered at about 8mos. old. His brother and him had a vet come to see them at home at about 2yrs. old to do a tusk trim. The vet had to use an injection. His brother went down easy, but not him. He staggered a wobbled around and got agitated when we approached him. We finally had to knock him over and hold him down. He has now developed an ugly mass behind one ear that needs to be removed, which means 'gas'. No mobile vets here have it portable. I can't figure out how to get him calm enough for transport. I am so afraid of a stress induced mishap. I love him so much. His tusks have grown out again and he spooks kind of easy since his vision is not that good. I don't want ANYONE hurt.

Answer
If you have a week or so the easiest way to do this is to get an airline approved pet carrier, sprinkle the inside with vanilla, add a non-slip mat and feed him in it daily. The morning he is to go to the vet, feed him just a tiny bit in the crate and lock him inside when he steps in. He will be upset when he realizes he can't get out, and will bang on the door. But, because he's used to being fed inside the crate, he should settle down as soon as he is loaded into the vehicle and you are on the road.

If you do not have a week or so, get the crate and start feeding him in it right away. Then, on the morning of loading, be ready if he doesn't want to go in his crate because he isn't quite used to it. Have two or three people with sorting boards (like large garbage can lids or pieces of plywood) to herd him into the crate and close the door.

When he's at the vets, they will likely leave him in his crate until it's time to sedate him.

Choose an airline approved crate as big as you can fit in your vehicle. These crates are designed for dogs, and dogs can turn around in a narrower space than pigs can. So go big so your pig has room to turn. The airline approved part is important in many ways. First, the crate is safe for the pig even in the event of an accident (we can't control the other drivers on the road). It's also sturdy, so piggy can not bust out and will know it.

Pigs love the smell of vanilla. It intrigues them the way catnip fascinates cats. Putting vanilla in the crate will catch his interest and make him want to go inside to explore.

There's lots of home remedies to "calm nerves". Currently, L theanine is the popular choice. It's an extract from green tea available at health food stores and some drugstores. Rescue Remedy has been popular for years. Some people swear by it. My personal experience has been that it had no effect on either the pig or me.

No matter what you do or give him, it will be stressful for him. Getting him familiar and comfortable in the crate is the best thing, because then after the surgery he will have a place to feel safe.

I am not a veterinarian and can not make a medical diagnosis over the internet. Worse still, you did not ask me about the mass but I'm going to offer a thought, anyway. Two common causes for lumps and masses are abscesses and parasites. Pigs are very prone to abscesses because their skin heals quickly. If a wound is not promptly washed, it will begin to close with contaminated around it, causing a large lump. Hot compresses will encourage a lump like this to pop within hours or days. Once it's opened and drained, all it needs is to be washed out then treated with any over the counter antibiotic ointment (sprays apply too lightly). Parasites can cause abscess like lumps from bites. Ticks can bite the soft skin behind pig ears and a tick bite makes a hard, nasty lump. Worbles are fly maggots that live under the skin in many farm animals. It happens a lot to kittens that live in barns. The flies normally can not bite pig skin, but can bite the soft tissue behind the ear. You'll know it's a worbel if you dab the lump with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol, because the alcohol with bother the worbel and it will squirm. The worbel can be extracted with tweezers and crushed, and the wound treated with any disinfected and antibiotic.

Pot Bellied Pigs

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Helen Morrison

Expertise

Pot-bellied or other miniature pet pig care, including diet, housing, training, health care. Can provide information about zoning, adoption, supplies, and organizations. Questions about any kind of pet swine are welcome!

Experience

Owning, raising, and caring for small pet swine, including "Vietnamese" pot-bellied pigs since 1992.

Organizations
Pigs of Great Fortune; FAREC; PigCollaborative

Education/Credentials
BBA from KSU

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